The Financial Times is reporting today that former head of audit Hywel Ball is EY UK’s new managing partner “despite widespread speculation that it would be the first of the Big Four accounting firms to appoint a female leader.” That’ll teach y’all to speculate.
Ball, a 35-year veteran of EY, beat out chief operating officer Lynn Rattigan and global accounts chair Alison Kay, both of whom were favorites for the position.
“The number of women who had been sounded out for the job by EY’s global board had raised expectations that the firm would be the first of the Big Four — which includes rivals PwC, Deloitte and KPMG — to be run by a woman in the UK,” writes FT.
“Lots of people at the top wanted a woman [to take over],” said a senior executive close to EY. “But EY’s global firm thinks audit firm separation could be the defining issue [for the UK business] for the next five years.”
In other words, forget about chicks, we’ve got a status quo to protect. ICYMI, regulators across the pond have had a major hard-on for breaking up the Big 4 oligarchy for some time now.
The EY UK managing partner post opened up this past January when then-MP Steve Varley stepped down (read: noped on up out of there) after nine years in the position. He remained with the firm despite abandoning his spot at the top, taking on the brand new role of Global Vice Chair – Sustainability instead.
Soon after the Varley announcement, my esteemed colleague Bramwell addressed EY UK’s “waffles or pancakes” problem and expressed optimism that the firm might woman up in filling the MP spot writing:
Naming a woman as its next U.K. chairman/managing partner would be a step in the right direction for EY for a couple of reasons:
- It would stop the endless “old white guy” march to the corner office at the Big 4 firms in the U.K.
- It might get the bad taste out of some people’s mouths from that EY “Power-Presence-Purpose” training seminar for female executives in the U.S. a couple of years ago, in which women’s brains were compared to an entree you’d order at Denny’s.
And this, kids, is why we’re stingy with the optimism.
Hywel Ball will assume the position July 1. Better luck next time, ladies.